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‘Rebuilding Paradise’ documentary brings viewers to tears


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I just watched the early movie premiere of ‘Rebuilding Paradise’ and all I have to say is WOW!  Director Ron Howard and Imagine Documentaries, chronicle the devastating November firestorm which engulfed the beautiful city of Paradise, California.

The fire was recorded as one of the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years. The campfire eventually becomes extinguished, but the damage couldn’t be denied. Taking the lives of 85 people, displacing 50,000 residents, and destroying 95 percent of local structures.

Howard shines a light on the strength of Paradise in the face of tragedy. Moreover, how they look to rebuild for the future in one of the worst fires in California’s history.

The movie gave me goosebumps the entire way through. Have you ever watched a movie where you’ve felt every emotion the characters felt? Where you want to reach through the screen and hug them? Cry with them? Smile with them?

Yep, ‘Rebuilding Paradise’ gave me all those feelings, not to mention it’s based on a true story, on the real-life events that took place in 2018 in Paradise.


This movie puts a lot into perspective. It takes you through the journey that some of the survivors went through. In addition, shows you their real, raw emotions and how they overcame the fires that destroyed everything they owned. Also, it makes you grateful for what you have, knowing it can be taken from you in an instance. Furthermore, ‘Rebuilding Paradise’, highlights how an entire community, most of which were strangers, came together as one to regroup, and begin rebuilding this city. They returned the area to what they remember their paradise being.

After watching the movie I was inspired and wanted to learn more. I researched and looked into the people that unfortunately lost their lives during the fires and how long they had lived in paradise. It was their home, the place where many made fondest memories. Taken by fires that could’ve been avoided. I couldn’t help but cry for the people of Paradise as I watched this movie. I love sad movies. However, when it’s a documentary on real people and their sad stories, it just hits different.

‘Rebuilding Paradise’ was a roller coaster of emotions, from beginning to end and I loved every second of it. I would recommend this movie to people of all ages, as it is a movie I will most definitely never forget.

National Geographic Documentary Films had initiated an effort to donate $1 of each sale or rental of Rebuilding Paradise (now available on several platforms) in the month of October to the Wildfire Relief Fund in support of the Butte Strong Fund. 

This Sunday, Nov. 8 ‘Rebuilding Paradis’ will be released commercial-free on National Geographic. The date marks the second anniversary of the Camp Fire.

“We at Imagine Documentaries are thankful to our partners at National Geographic Documentary Films for the continued effort to share this very important and timely film with a wider audience,” said Howard. “There is no doubt that climate change is a contributing factor to the historic fires burning even now on the West Coast, devastating entire communities. This should be a wake-up call – Paradise could be any of us.”

By Brooke Smith

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